“Form two lines and wait.”
I heard that several times.
“We’ll wait another 5 minutes.”
And we waited on a bus at the Joint Security Area or JSA at the Demilitarized Zone or DMZ.
The DMZ is a buffer between two counties, North and South Korea. The word buffer is a bit strong. First, there is a boarder. The board that is fenced with barbwire, secured and patrolled 24/7 is a strip of land that crosses the Korea peninsula which is about 1.5 wide. The DMZ is an area in which both forces occupy and watch each other. Within the same area is the North Korea building right next to the South Korea building. Unity side-by-side. Again, unity is a strong word.
I stood in North Korea. Sure, it was in a building and with an armed guard, but it was North Korea territory nonetheless.
We were escorted to this area by US Army. First stop on Base before DMZ was the ID check. Second was a briefing complete with signing an agreement that you may die and that you can not make gestures or monkey faces at North Korea. Then its a power point presentation by US Army before boarding a little bus to the DMZ area. As a ‘guest’ you are not allowed to take pictures of the South Korea buildings inside or out however you are allowed to take pictures of North Korea. We were allowed to take pictures of the buildings on the boarder that South Korea owned just because I think they blocked the view of North Korea.
As I took photos and stood in a line (as order) I didn’t make money faces or other gestures for that matter.
Back on the short bus to an observation area in which you are surrounded by three sides of North Korea. In the distance you can see Freedom town. The South believes it is essentially a ghost town, the North wants us to believe people are living happy lives there.
Back on the bus to see the bridge to nowhere. It was the bridge in which you could walk across once. Once to the country of your choice, no going back. The bridge now has a barricade across it.
If by chance a defector can make it past the North Korea Guards and 1.5 miles landmines in the middle of no man’s land; there are a couple of phones in the fields. Yeap. Phones. Its your call to safety. The guards will come running to protect the defector.
“Form a line.”
Back in a line to wait before we were allowed to leave the DMZ area. The big surprise of the day is that I didn’t get into trouble. I do know how to behave myself when needed. But the military also pointed out the phones in the field to me. I knew where to run too.